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Hawthorn & Child

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  749 ratings  ·  166 reviews
The two protagonists of the title are mid-ranking policemen operating amongst London's criminal classes, but each is plagued by dreams of elsewhere and, in the case of Hawthorn, a nightlife of visceral intensity that sits at odds with his carefully-composed placid family mask but has the habit of spilling over into his working life as a policeman. Ridgway has much to say, ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 5th 2012 by Granta
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,873)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Much like this review, this book starts out with a boner. Tone? Set? Sort of. I don't want to give the impression that this book is juvenile in nature, but it's important for you to know that it's not, not, not a straight police procedural. It's one of them there genre-benders, which uses the premise of a modern London team of homicide coppers investigating things to revel in a number of stylistically variant vignettes. Yes, there is a shooting. Yes, the shooting is investigated. However, stuff ...more
Jun 05, 2015 Antonomasia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: John Self's Asylum blog
Much-fêted in the UK literary blogosphere; less well-rated on Goodreads. The latter seemingly because some readers of crime fiction object to the loose ends.
Having found it easy to read, clever and fun, I'm siding with the bloggers. I picked up H&C because I couldn't read Tolstoy after a poor night's sleep; wondering what to choose, I'd been prompted by this blogger who's also tackling a tsundoku problem, with more single-minded resolve than I am - I had two of the same titles from that lis
David Hebblethwaite
Hawthorn & Child is just the sort of book I had in mind when I wrote this blog post about coming to appreciate different literary aesthetics; its incoherence would have left me cold a few years ago, but now I can see more clearly what the book is doing. The title characters are police detectives, and therefore characters whom we would generally expect to bring coherence to the world – but Ridgway creates a study of lives refusing to cohere.

Structurally, the novel is fragmented: a series of s
For a book I'd wanted to read for so long - and really enjoyed - I'm finding it surprisingly difficult to think of anything to say about Hawthorn & Child. Part of the problem is that it's so difficult to describe: each chapter is totally different to the last, but they aren't really short stories either, more like interconnected vignettes. The characters of the title - two London policemen - appear or are referenced in every chapter, but they are rarely central to what happens and they remai ...more
incredible noir capturing modern day crime and detection and the "why bother, it;s all going to shit anyway?" situations many find themselves in, during these times. a new directions book, perhaps a first for them? a detective novel. like these great reads An Occasional Dream and The Black Minutes and Beautiful, Naked & Dead and bolano books

i forgot to add, no crimes are solved
Jude Broad
I enjoyed the beginning of this book, but by half way through I had lost patience, and just wanted to get to the end. By two thirds of the way through I didn't care if I finished it at all. Perhaps I am not clever enough to appreciate the nuances and style of writing. I like a book to be challenging, but I don't like to be left feeling unfulfilled and bewildered.
Hawthorn and Child are London detectives diligently investigating crimes, yet they are a distinctly odd pair. The entire book has an overwhelming feeling of strangeness; even the secondary characters are peculiar and eccentric.

Ridgway pushes a lot of boundaries, but he does it exceedingly well. Reading this, I had the feeling of being dropped into an already existing scenario -- nothing is explained, only experienced. While unsettling, the format lends itself to the unfolding of surprise after
keith ridgway's hawthorn & child is a curious, strange, often delightful work that cannot really be described as a novel in any traditional sense of the word. more a collection of stories or vignettes connected by the two titular characters, the irish author's ambitious work is humorous, imaginative, and, at times, surprisingly moving. focusing on the professional and personal lives of a pair of english police detectives (also of different races and sexual orientations), hawthorn & child ...more
Adrian White
Some books you wish you'd written yourself and this is one of them. When an author so easily articulates what has been spinning around in your mind for so long, in the form of a novel that is so uniquely his own - well then, you can only sit back and be grateful.

There are many things to admire in this novel but I'm going to include here two quotes that get right to the heart of what I wish I could achieve as a writer:

'I am not a stakeholder. I hold no stake. I pay my taxes. My taxes buy weapons
Sue Batcheler
I can't decide if this is a work of genius or a case of the Emperors new clothes. It's deliberately fragmentary and there were fragments that really hooked me. But there were too many other fragments that left me cold and in the end I didn't care whether I finished it or not.
Joanne Sheppard
I started reading Keith Ridgway's Hawthorn and Child on the recommendation of John Self, who was at the time embarking on an experiment to see how effectively a book could be drawn to people's attention through social media. John's enthusiastic championing of the book meant my expectations were high; equally, he'd been very clear about the type of book Hawthorn and Child is, so I knew roughly what to expect: an unconventional narrative structure, a lack, by most definitions, of discernible plot, ...more
Mar 29, 2013 Raz rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: odd, crime
This book is so hard to describe and very hard to rate. Bits of it were fantastic, and it could easily have been a refreshing and brilliant way of writing a book.

I wasn't warned/told about the concept before I read - that each chapter is a small portion of a story, left unfinished, with some overlapping characters - which actually made it far less enjoyable. I was waiting for some sort of major plot wrap-up the whole way through, and was always expecting a new chapter to revisit an old story.

Marc Nash
There's a lot of buzz about this book currently so I thought I'd check it out. The Titular Hawthorn and Child are two CID Detectives who have links to every one of the somewhat disparate chapters. Chapter 1 starts off with a non-lethal shooting they investigate, but none of the succeeding chapters returns to this particular crime. The way they fade in and out of the stories reminded me partly of Norwegian Noir writer Karin Fossum's detective pair Sejer and Skarre who are at times almost ethereal ...more
This is a difficult book to review. It's written in fragments - each chapter is a piece of a story, some more connected than others with several recurring characters - in particular the police team of Hawthorn and Child. Many of the storylines are not resolved so be prepared to walk away with more questions than answers. If you like your novels tied up with a bow, this book is not for you. While I found this style frustrating at times, the writing kept me engaged. Some fragments (I can't even ca ...more
I loved this book. Once I finished it I wanted to just start from the beginning and read it all over again.

This is not a standard cop whodunit book though. If you are looking for a mystery where at the end of the day everything is all tied up and solved, this is not the book for you. This is more like tiny little capsules of peoples lives and actions strung together, sometimes with the barest of threads. When I finished the last page I had more questions than when I started the book, but in thi
Hmmm. What the #*$@ did I just read?
I like the way Ridgeway writes, I was gripped by the monologues the characters spouted in each chapter, hoping there would be a dawning moment when they all connected, even if my grip on that connection might not be too coherent.
But no. There are no connections. Either that or I just didn't see them. Which is a shame because, I liked this book, but it baffled the pants off me. Can I explain? Can I review it? Can I recommend it? The answer to these and many ot
This was not the book for me. I thought it was going to be a detective novel but it's not. I have no idea what it was. Or really what happened. It's probably a clever book but give me a book with a storyline over clever every time.
Aries Poon
It's pretty on mark to call Hawthorn & Child an anti-novel. And the British author Keith Ridgway nailed it, superbly.

He once put it that it is "a book of fragments". "The mysteries are everywhere, but the biggest of all is our mysterious compulsion to solve them. In Hawthorn & Child, the only certainty is that we've all misunderstood everything," the back of the book says.

I read his interview at Asylum (LINK: before reading his book, so I knew I
Karina Westermann
1) A couple of years ago Tom McCarthy’s novel C was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. McCarthy was rather good at sound-bites. He declared the novel ‘the Finnegans Wake for the 21st Century’ or even a nouveau roman. This was utter nonsense, of course. I enjoyed the novel a great deal but at its core it was a rather conventional Bildungsroman cleverly disguised as an experimental anti-novel.

2) Narratologists are endlessly fascinated by ‘plot’ – one of the most famous books on the topic is eve
WOW, I thought this book was incredible. Definitely the best book I've read so far this year. I couldn't put it down. Bolaño would LOVE this book. The titular Hawthron & Child are a pair of detectives who wander in and out of this fragmented novel (or is it a short story collection?) like Rosencratz and Guildenstern, or like they're waiting for Godot. The plot of the story is that there is no plot. Mysteries are unsolvable, life is nonsensical, things don't add up, there is no answer or expl ...more
Does anyone remember The Gentle Touch? It was a British TV police drama that had many threads in the story - some were endings, some were beginnings but only one thread ever ran from start to finish in the episode.Well, Hawthorn and Child is a bit like that - except without the completed thread. There are beginnings, ends and middles with only vague themes to hold them together. Most, for example, have a cameo appearance by Detective Hawthorn or Detective Child, jobbing police detectives, or per ...more
After I'd read this, I must admit that I was unsure why this had been picked as a Waterstones Book Club title, as it certainly isn't one for everyone. However, one morning on my bus journey to work, a man sat down next to me reading it, and we ended up getting into a discussion about it; not something I'm used to doing on my commute (I'm usually too busy trying not to fall asleep into my coffee!) So I'll preface this review by saying that, if nothing else, there's a lot in here to talk about!

A terrific novel, or un-novel, or whatever you want to call it. I love a book that strings along and plays with and confounds my readerly expectations, then leads me somewhere unexpected, and Hawthorn & Child does just that. Whereas Ridgway's earlier novel The Parts relied on interwoven and sometimes overlapping storylines, this time the stories overlap in only the most peripheral ways — sometimes literally, as the recurring detectives Hawthorn and Child are glimpsed at the edge of someone e ...more
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Liz Ellen Vogan
I think I understand little of why this book is. Ridgway described as a shattered novel, and it makes sense. I found scraps that were poignant (I'd like to forward River's daughter's chapter to a friend of mine, her perception of art and art critics and cliche is heartening and real). Other shards were avenues that had no apparent relevance and dead-ended, unless I missed something. Every shard had something good but it was hard to tell where the break was sometimes and also, as I said, why this ...more
this is a book without much of a plot. That are a few characters that appear throughout the book including the 2 title characters, who are cops. There are chapters that I had no idea what they were about. Of course the cover blurbs were much for cover quotes.
Renita D'Silva
Quirky. Original. Good.
Hawthorn and Child, two London detectives, wrestle with mysteries they cannot solve. A man is wounded in a drive-by shooting which may be connected to the ongoing investigation of a crime boss (but then again, maybe not). A pickpocket who drives the crime boss around on meaningless errands has a growing, nagging sense of paranoia and makes a sudden decision to leave the country with his girlfriend. A man narrates his own mental breakdown as he raves about powerful people he's never met, although ...more
Meh. I knew I was in for it when I saw that one of the main characters referenced his erection like five times in his first seven pages of stream-of-consciousness. Pretty good indicator that this was not going to be my jam. This was allegedly innovative! And experimental! But really, it was just a collection of short stories that were held together by the same two characters appearing somewhere in each story. Some of the stories were better than others, but if there was a larger point in there s ...more
Full Stop

Review by Daniel Green

In its way, Keith Ridgway’s Hawthorn and Child is a compelling read. Some readers expecting a conventionally linear narrative might certainly find that this book consistently defies expectations of sequential continuity and character development, but this does not mean it provides no story (it may provide too much) and no characters (there might be too many to keep track of). If we were to abandon the notion that plots must be uniline
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The Readers: YWTB #10 - Keith Ridgway 1 8 Aug 13, 2013 12:11AM  
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“They couldn't talk. They were not good talkers, either of them. And once, long ago now, she had bought a notebook for a course. It lay empty and forgotten on the kitchen table until one afternoon, when she had gone out to the shops and he was worried that she would be killed by a bus or by lightning, he opened the notebook and he wrote lines about how he loved her, the way he loved her, about his fucking heart and crap like that, about his body brimful and his scrambled head. All that. She came back from the shops. He left the notebook where it was, and he didn't mention it. And it wasn't until about a week later that he noticed it again, and he flicked it open, and he saw his lines followed by lines from her. She'd written words that she had never said. He sat down. He read them over and over for a long time. Then he wrote a paragraph for her to find.” 3 likes
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